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YouTube and Pixability Offer Keys to Online Video Brand Success

Two powerhouses in online video, YouTube and marketing company Pixability, joined forces in New York City today to offer brands the tips they need to succeed (succeed on YouTube, this is). At the first ever UberTube Brand Summit, panelists hyped the power and reach of YouTube, while offering real-world, brand-tested advice on how to reach and engage an audience of potential buyers.

Bob Garfield
Bob Garfield

With YouTube, even small brands can create something that gets millions of hits. Kicking off the day, Lucas Watson, Google's vice president of global brand success, showed an excellent video from TNT Belgium that cost little to create and has so far earned nearly 50 million views. All of Belgium has only 11 million people, he noted.

There are three ways brands can use YouTube to sell products, Watson said: connect to a valuable audience, express brand stories in a creative way, and encourage viewer participation.

YouTube has more young viewers than any cable network, Watson said, and reaches four times more 18- to 34-year-olds than any other digital video offering. He added that the site gets 1 billion monthly viewers, and 6 billion video views per day.

Brand storytelling works best with video, Watson said, adding that two-thirds of brand ad spend is on ads that combine sight, sound, and motion. On YouTube, he pointed out, brands co-create their online video experience along with the viewer. When brands listen and respond to comments, they get valuable advice on making their products better. Fans create 75 percent or more of a brand's video content on YouTube, showing that brands can't control the conversation. The best brands can do is respond quickly when problems crop up.

The most important thing for brands that haven't yet made a significant effort in online video is to get started, Watson said. You don't learn to swim by standing on the side of the pool listening to the instructor, he noted.

Successful brand videos always have a few common elements, Watson said: They open the heart or the mind, and they offer a benefit to the viewer. Watson encouraged the audience to embrace paid distribution. Somebody's got to see a video first if they're going to share it, he pointed out.

Following Watson, NPR's Bob Garfield offered a fresh, necessary, and occasionally foul-mouthed take on why brand video marketers often do it wrong. Repurposing TV spots on YouTube isn't a strategy, he noted, it's a "wild goose chase." He also offered strong words on the idea of going viral.

"You will not create a viral sensation," Garfield said. "Weirdness is not the secret of going viral." Neither is sex, humor, or special effects. Rather, virals are phenomena, they just happen, he stated, "Sometimes meteors strike the Earth."

"It's not going to happen to you," Garfield said -- of both viral videos and meteor strikes. "You will never in your careers create a viral video." To show how difficult the task is, he pointed out that Dollar Shave Club's first video was a huge hit (14 million views), but the company couldn't capture that magic a second time (its second video got 2 million views). He also pointed out that virals aren't always useful: While BlendTec got huge views for the "Will it Blend?" campaign, those videos didn't reach people who buy blenders.

What does good YouTube content look like? Garfield pointed to a Betty Crocker cake decorating video that's earned 7 million views. "Slick is often too slick," he said. "Be f*cking derivative." Videos that are simple and useful are often the ones that appeal to viewers.

Troy Dreier's article first appeared on OnlineVideo.net

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